This week the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) announced a new campaign to increase educational efforts and increase awareness on the importance of infection prevention. If you haven’t checked out the Infection Prevention and You website yet, you should right now.
This is a great way for infection prevention professionals to keep both patient and healthcare professionals informed of current infection prevention strategies and patient safety information. One of the things I like best about this site is that it shares advice on what to do at home, work, school, and even on vacation. The new campaign empowers more than just those in the healthcare field to be proactive in preventing infection. When nearly 1.7 million people in the U.S get infections in hospitals while being treated for something else, it takes an army to stop this unnecessary tragedy from happening.
During this time of the government shutdown and the CDC currently out of the office, its great timing for APIC to step up to help. The latest example of the government shutdown effects is the outbreak of salmonella in chicken that has sickened people in 18 states. APIC’s tab called “Your home,” on new site highlights proper cooking techniques to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Show your support in APICS’s infection prevention efforts and share this great infographic with others.
“So, what do you do?”
No matter what job you hold, it happens to all of us at some point. The age old question about where you spend 8+ hours, 5 days a week. It’s a talking point at social gatherings and it’s a question that some dread and others wait for. For those that work in Sterile Processing, you probably know what it is like to work in a field area where the average person may not understand what it is you really do all day. I imagine that sometimes when CSP professionals try describing what they do, they are likely to either sell themselves short or make the listener squirm.
So you probably won’t go into details about how you clean off all of the blood and guts that end up on instruments after a surgery. You certainly won’t mention the smell that you’ve gotten used to or the flattering full body suit you wear every day. That just doesn’t emanate a cool factor. You could tell them that you make sure the surgeons have the instruments they need for each surgery, but you don’t. Because that could come across as a little boring when you’re first meeting somebody.
However, what you should mention is something about how you are a patient advocate. You ensure each and every item that comes out of that room is cleaned, sterilized and disinfected. You make sure that when a patient enters the hospital for an ailment that he isn’t going to wind up with other deadly infections because there was bioburden left on the instrument giving him MRSA or C. diff. You are the one that ensures his safety from infection so he can worry about things like how many days he has to eat that hospital food and how to get the nurses to stop waking you up for testing so you can get some sleep.
Show him this video so he knows just how important your job is, because the more people that realize the value of what you do, the more attention will spread towards the importance of infection prevention.
Have you ever gone into a business meeting wearing a suit and noticed the guy on the other end of the table is wearing a polo shirt? Or have you seen someone at the pool on a beautiful 90 degree day in long sleeves black pants? I sure have and it makes me wonder about the difference between expectations and common sense.
It has been engrained in our heads that certain situations call for a certain type of apparel. We expect in a business environment everyone will dress for a business meeting. We expect that at the pool, you wear your beach apparel. Yet other times its just plain common sense to dress a certain way. Why dress in all black when the sun is so hot and its such a beautiful day?
Medical facilities are going through these questions as well. Traditionally doctors have donned the long white coat and tie. So that’s what we’ve grown to expect of them. A nice clean look makes the doctor appear professional and therefore respected as an an athority on your health. But does this coat and tie approach follow common sense?
When we stop to think about it, that coat and tie goes from room to room, seeing sick patient after sick patient. Yet it isn’t disinfected between seeing each patient. It probably isn’t even disinfected between each day either. If you really want to get the heebie-jeebies, think about the last time you’ve washed your tie. Some would even admit to, “never.”
There have been nation-wide hospital policies surrounding this issue. Should we ditch the professional physician attire? It should help decrease the spread of harmful infections, but would you take your doctor as serious if he was in kahki’s and a button up? Some resident students have even started attending clinicals wearing jeans! Yet just because you ditch the coat and tie for something else doesn’t mean you’re transmitting less germs. It might however, be more likely to be washed.
Which way would you vote? The professional attire that you expect that comandeers respect or the attire that might be disinfected more regularly and spread less bacteria? I think that is a tough question. Either way we vote, it’s an indication that therein lies some responsibility on the physician to take a pro-active approach to work attire. Dressing professionally should not only encompass the look of their attire but the level of cleanliness as well.
Recently Fox News and NBC Nightly News and its investigators, (including renown physician Pritish Tosh, M.D., and representatives of the CDC) featured an outbreak of e-coli infections happening after surgeries that used this TEE probe.
What is “TEE”? Transesophageal echocardiography — or, TEE — is a diagnostic procedure that uses a specialized device to display sonographic images of the heart, known as echocardiograms (which are distinguished from “ECGs,” or electrocardiograms).
In these examples, a “physical defect” in the TEE probe may have caused the TEE probe to remain contaminated after reprocessing. The complex designs of arthroscopic shaver hand-pieces and inflow/outflow cannulae retained infectious bioburden after cleaning.
TEE is a risk factor for healthcare-associated infections of gram-negative bacteria including Legionella spp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli. Therefore, its proper reprocessing is required to prevent bacterial outbreaks. – Lawrence F Muscarella PhD
So how do we ensure proper reprocessing required to prevent bacterial outbreaks?
You may recall a somewhat similar situation of an outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa featured on the Today Show back in 2009 in Houston, Texas.
Watch the Today Show segment here
Jahan Azizi is the head of infection control at the University of Michigan. Over the past few years here at Midbrook Medical, we have had the pleasure of working with him. Azizi, who was featured in this segment, has worked with Midbrook in order to deliver hospitals with the most effective surgical instrument washer.
One of the things Azizi talks about frequently that we’ve adapted ourselves is, “If it isn’t clean, it can’t be sterilized.” That’s what is happening with these instruments. When the instrument is still dirty and it goes into the sterilizer, the bio-burden is essentially getting baked on.
The Tempest process that uses ultrasonic, enzymatic soak, agitation, exterior fluid spray and interior lumen flush system. See for yourself why Jahan made sure to have the Tempest in his Central Sterile Processing Department.
Hey NFL Physicians Society, WAKE UP!
MRSA Infections in the NFL
Ok, maybe that’s too harsh of a title to use, but read the rest of the article and then let’s decide. I recently read an article talking about the serious issue affecting the NFL. The article talks about how the NFL Physicians Society has sent several newsletters and memos to the league, reminding them to “remain vigilant” about trying to prevent MRSA infections. Players like The Tampa Bay Buccaneer guard, Carl Nicks and place kicker Lawrence Tynes are fighting MRSA, a potentially life threatening staph infection resistant to most antibiotics.
One of the reasons this has become a problem seemingly more prevalent in the sports world, is because these athletes are extremely sweaty. They are in close contact with each other on the field and in the locker room, sweating on the turf, equipment, towels and a ball that they pass from one person to the next. Then there are the mouth guards. Continuously taken in and out of their mouth with their hands or dropped on the ground. Yuck!
So what does the NFL Physicians Society suggest these athletes do to prevent this increased risk of infection? “Hand washing and good hygiene.” That’s the best advice they offer. And while suggesting hand washing and good hygiene is better than nothing at all, I think there has to be more that can be done.
It’s the year 2013, we know more about the spread of infection than say, 50 years ago. What kind of technology or science can we utilize to help these sweaty athletes stay healthy? One example I can think of is to utilize UVC light that we know is proven to kill germs. Have the players place those mouth guards and towels, etc. into a UV Flash that can disinfect in 60 seconds.
I’m sure a lot of you reading this also know a thing or two about infection prevention practices and have a few ideas yourself. The issue of infection not only lies in the NFL player’s locker room. We have to remember it’s rampant in the real world too and that’s an even bigger problem. Maybe the NFL needs to become a role model for hospitals and medical facilities!
I’m not saying hand washing doesn’t help limit the transfer of bacteria but if it was working so well, we wouldn’t be having such an epidemic. Other than hand washing, what would you suggest the NFL do to prevent the spread of infection? Who knows, maybe next year’s NFL Health and Safety Report will feature your idea as a new standard practice.
Let’s get Excited About Education Again
It’s the first week in September again. I don’t know about you, but September will always mean one thing: back to school time.
Do you remember your first days of school as a kindergartner or first grader? I still remember the outfit I wore on my first day of first grade, right down to the purple flower necklace. From that very first day, I loved school. I loved my teacher, I loved the weekly packet of homework we got every Monday, I loved the brownies in the school lunches, and I loved the black-and-white plaid jumper I got to wear.
Everything was so exciting. I was learning more difficult addition and subtraction. I learned how to read the “ch”, “sh”, and “th” sounds. And I couldn’t wait until I was lucky enough to get homework every day and graduate from wearing the jumper to the plaid skirt like my older sister.
I’m not trying to make you nostalgic for your childhood or days gone by (although now that I mentioned it, I am craving one of those school brownies). I’m just wondering: at what point do we lose that excitement for change and for learning new things?
At what age does “I get to try this” turn into “I have to try this”? When do we stop seeking out new information and ideas, desperate to be as smart as the people we look up to? When do we start skimming the title of an article and hitting delete, not even interested in the learning opportunity that is literally right in front of us?
Like everything else in life, infection prevention is an ongoing and never-ending education. But think about that for a minute. Think about all the new technologies that have come out and that are going to come out in our lifetime. Think about all the different ways we’re going to develop to kill harmful bacteria and keep people safe and healthy. Think about all the studies scientists will do, all the ways healthcare facilities will evolve and adapt with each piece of new information.
Like I said, infection prevention is an ongoing and never-ending education. And I think it’s about time we got excited about that again.
Infection Prevention- “And” is Better
Have you seen the new Ford commercials?
It’s a pretty ridiculous ad, but do you see their point? Why would we choose between two options when having both is better? In the case of Ford, a foot activated lift gate AND great gas mileage is better than one or the other. And what about these other duos?
Macaroni AND cheese, Bert AND Ernie, Twist AND Shout…
Better together, right?
It reminds me of the sentiment that I’ve seen reiterated over and over in LinkedIn discussions, news articles, and success stories: infection prevention needs an all-hands-on-deck and it doesn’t have just one solution. When it comes to infection prevention, “and” is better.
In a patient’s room:
- Hand hygiene: cuts down on the spread of germs and bacteria, but it’s impossible to ensure 100% compliance
- Antimicrobial copper: kills 99.9% of surface bacteria within 2 hours, but it’s not financially possible for most hospitals to copperize every single surface in a hospital
- Hand hygiene AND Antimicrobial copper: eliminating more germs and bacteria through hand hygiene and copper high touch surfaces
In an instrument washer:
- Ultrasonic bath: breaks up bioburden on instrument surface
- Ozonated water: world’s most effective bacteria-killer
- Ultrasonic bath AND Ozonated water: elimination of bioburden and bacteria leading to instruments that consistently pass AAMI standards
- UVC full room disinfection machine: disinfects rooms, but only the surfaces facing the machine
- UV Flash: 360° disinfection of hard to clean objects at a high risk for cross-contamination such as stethoscopes, laptops, and more
- UVC full room disinfection machine AND UV Flash: ability to disinfect rooms as well as the entire surface area of commonly used objects; both of which cuts down on cross-contamination
- Standardized processes: ensures everyone is following the best proven procedures while cleaning instruments in sterile processing departments, preparing a room for a new patients, etc.
- Standardized results: ensures that each healthcare facility is aiming for an objective and measurable level of clean
- Standardized processes AND results: no more articles with tips on which hospitals to choose and which to avoid because everyone is following the same procedures and achieving the same high level of clean
Yup, “and” is definitely better.
What are some other infection prevention combinations you can think of?